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Editor's Note - 18 (November 1, 2009)

Anushtaanam Crying For Attention And Observance

Dear Fellow-Bhagavathas,

Your mind must have been filled with as much devotion and wonderment as mine as we remembered the great deeds of our Azhwars and Acharyas for a few months on the trot in these columns. Thought it is time now to address a vital issue.

It is a heart-warming fact that devotion to and faith in God and the awareness levels of our people in religious matters have soared in the last 10 years or so, thanks to exposure to discourses, mass media programmes, etc. However, there is also this disturbing trend that orthodoxy or adherence to and following the basic tenets of our Sampradaya has taken a downswing during the corresponding time. In other words, theory has thrived and practice has plummeted.

Knowledge is of little value if it is not taken to its logical end through application. Seeing and realising that the tree bears fruits that are sweet is knowledge. But unless one makes an attempt and succeeds in plucking and eats them, he cannot experience and enjoy the sweetness. So, mere knowledge is no substitute for experience; awareness has to be capped by achievement through application, to make any meaning.

In this context, it is an encouraging sign that these days, a lot of parents prefer to do the Upanayanam to their ward at a reasonably young age. But on the flip side, in most cases, little is done to make sure that the boy learns and performs Sandhya Vandanam properly and regularly. It has become something like disposing of one’s duty, without understanding the purpose or following the rule.

We shall call the awareness-devotion-faith as ‘Asthikam’ and the practical part as ‘Anushtaanam’, for easy understanding. It may be recalled that in an earlier Note (No. 14), a few specifics that need to be followed were discussed. We shall bifurcate these into the heads Asthikam and Anushtaanam.

List-A: Asthikam-based deedsList-B: Anushtaanam-based deeds
  • Samasrayanam, Saranaagathi
  • Bhagavath, Bhagavatha, Acharya Kainkaryams
  • Visiting temples/pilgrimage
  • Learning Azhwar/Acharyas’ works
  • Listening to discourses
  • Reading divine works
  • Wearing the Thiruman
  • Swaroopam/attire
  • Thrikaala Sandhya Vandanam
  • Nithya Thiruvaaraadhanam
  • Pariseshanam
  • Tharpanam, Sradhdham, wherever applicable

It is discernible from the above, that there is a sea of difference in disposition. While the state of affairs of those under List-A offer immense satisfaction, the situation is far from ideal with respect to the contents of List-B.

It would appear that the reason for this slip up in Anushtaanam is that people are at a cultural crossroads. Too many factors have combined and contrived to contribute to this state. Impact of alien lifestyle, comforts of technology, constant hunt for wealth, peer pressure, competition for everything, harmful food habits, perennial tension on various fronts and health problems may be cited as some of the reasons.

It is against this backdrop and these odds that one finds himself today. Anushtaanam is a casualty as people run around in circles, competing with the clock all the time. In a stark deviation, table dining, servant maid upto the kitchen, crèche, luxuries on loan, party for everything, mindless outside food, among others have become the order of the day.

Things wouldn’t have deteriorated to this level, if only faith had been shown in the Andal’s adage “மேலையார் செய்வனகள் வேண்டுவன” and predecessors’ footsteps followed in in Sri Vaishnava households. That would have ensured that the Anushtaanams and values were at least kept in tact, if not improved upon over generations. So much of dilution wouldn’t have resulted in.

Uncharitable it would be to blame it entirely on people for this scenario. It is a combination of inflicted and invited trouble. There must be a conscious effort to wriggle out of this vicious circle and march ahead in the right direction. Prioritising our wish-list to suit our Anushtaanam and pursuing calmly and earnestly to achieve them is the need of the hour.

Any facility/resource has two sides to it – constructive as well as destructive. To cite common examples, knife, fire, water, television, credit card, computer, electricity and so on. The key is how one makes use of it. Prudence would demand that we polish off the constructive side and use it to our advantage.

Happiness, health and wealth are the most coveted values of life and are equally important. One should not be sacrificed for the sake of the other(s). The tenets of our Sampradaya have been so designed by our Acharyas to optimise these values seamlessly, just by loyally adhering to the path of Anushtaanam.

Let us all make a little reflection and some concerted effort to optimise them our Sampradaya way, with due importance to Anushtaanam.

Meet you in the next Note.

எங்கள் தூப்புல் பிள்ளை பாதம் என் சென்னியதே!

Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar

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